Well, the President, uh, knew that this was coming, uh, from early December 1967; he had told uh, Australian Cabinet, uh, when I happened to be present, when we went out there for the service for Harold Holt, when he was drowned.
Uh, he had told them that, uh, in response to the question. The question it sent it was interesting, it was, uh, “Do you think uh, this would be a good time for a bombing halt and an attempt at a negotiation?” And his response was “Not now.” Uh, this was just before Christmas ’67. He said, “We’re going to have a very hard winter, they, they’re going to make a maximum effort, we shall see Kamikaze tactics. When they’re set back, that will be the time, uh, for a peace move.” And then he went right on, uh, he went on and said, “I’m not sure that, uh, in the course of an election year they will finally settle it, uh, but I think we have a chance of getting it to negotiations.”
And, so, he, in other words, had this thing very firmly in mind, and the cables that came from Westmoreland in the period just before the Tet Offensive, uh, gave, uh, him a very precise sense of, all of us, a sense that the thing was heightening, it might come any day. As you know, Westmoreland asked that th...and received, uh, permission, (a) to cancel US leaves at Tet, and (b) to resume bombing, uh, despite the Tet, uh, stand down in the tactical areas, uh, uh, in the, uh, near the, uh, truce lines.
And, uh, President Johnson’s, uh,...you remember we did have a bombing halt for Tet, and President Johnson’s response to his cable, uh, Westmoreland’s request, uh, I transmitted to him the request. He said, “Yes, I agree, uh, he can do that,” and he said, “If it was up to me, I’d cancel the whole Goddamn thing.”
Uh, he knew very well that this was the, was about to come; he could not, uh, get the, uh, South Vietnamese alerted; they’d tried, and some of them were off for holiday, and, uh, but ah as far as the President was concerned, he was fully prepared.